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The Torture Documents

The Torture Documents

From late 2001 onwards, numerous memos were exchanged between the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel and the White House, the Counsel to the CIA, and the Department of Defense regarding the detention and treatment of detainees in the 'War on Terror'. Of these, the Bybee and Bradbury memos provide important insights into the evolution of torture practices for use against so-called High Value Detainees by the CIA. Further insights are given by the CIA Inspector General's 2004 investigation into the use of 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques'.

The Bybee Memos

Memos sent in 2002 from Jay Bybee of the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, to the Counsel to the President and to the CIA presented a series of arguments which would provide the basis for approval of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment against detainees in the 'War on Terror'.

Jay Bybee, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice
Memo for Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President.
Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 USC §§2340-2340A

1 August 2002

Jay Bybee, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice
Memo for John Rizzo, Acting General Counsel to the CIA: Interrogation of an Al Qaeda Operative
1 August 2002

The Bradbury Memos

The Bradbury memos were issued in 2005 after the CIA had sought approval from the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel for harsher techniques than had previously been approved by the Bybee memos. When examined in conjunction with a secret investigation carried out by the CIA Inspector General in 2004 into the use of waterboarding and other 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques', we see that the techniques approved by Bradbury in 2005 were already being used by the CIA. In other words, the CIA was seeking retroactive approval for increasingly cruel and harsh interrogation methods.

Steven Bradbury, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice
Memo for John A Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, CIA.
Re: Application of 18 USC §§2340-2340A to Certain Techniques That May Be Used in the Interrogation of a High Value Al Qaeda Detainee
10 May 2005

Steven Bradbury, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice
Memo for John A Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, CIA.
Re: Application of 18 USC §§2340-2340A to the Combined Use of Certain Techniques in the Interrogation of High Value Al Qaeda Detainees
10 May 2005

Steven Bradbury, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice
Memo for John A Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, CIA.
Re: Application of United States Obligations Under Article 16 of the
Convention Against Torture to Certain Techniques that May Be
Used in the Interrogation of High Value Al Qaeda Detainees
30 May 2005

CIA Inspector General's Investigation into the use of 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

In late 2009, the report of the CIA Inspector General's investigation into the use of 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques' by the CIA was leaked. This report shows clearly that when the CIA was approaching the Office of Legal Counsel for approval for certain hash interrogation techniques, it was in many cases already using them. Thus it was seeking approval retroactively. In 2004, the Inspector General was already raising doubt about the efficacy of 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques' for securing intelligence. Furthermore, he made it clear that the techniques violated international law on torture. He also demonstrated that the mechanisms for controlling and overseeing the use of these techniques were chaotic, and this had led to the unauthorised use of cruel treatment. It is striking, therefore, that even after his investigation, the CIA continued to use these techniques, it continued to add new and harsher ones, and it sought to expand their use.
For a detailed analysis of the Inspector General's report, see Ruth Blakeley, 'Dirty Hands Clean Conscience: The CIA, Detention, 'Enhanced Interrogation', and the Outsourcing of Torture', in Journal of Human Rights, forthcoming December 2011.

Special Review: Counterterrorism, Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001-October 2003)
7 May 2004


The complete set of torture documents and good analysis is available on the Torture Archive website at the George Washington University National Security Archive.

 

Rendition Research Team - © University of Kent
University of Westminster University of Kent E.S.R.C